Adapted by R.C. Sherriff from Guy Gibson’s book Enemy Coast Ahead, The Dam Busters follows the conception and implementation of a new British weapon for smashing the German dams in the Ruhr industrial complex during World War II.
In 1942, Dr Barnes Wallis (Michael Redgrave) was possessed with a seemingly absurd idea – the creation of a revolutionary bouncing bomb to destroy the Ruhr dams and paralyse Germany’s heartland.
This film describes the development of the bouncing bomb, showing Barnes Wallis shooting marbles across a bathtub of water as the idea begins to form, through to devising a particularly simple bombsight and altimeter that had to be developed.
The film is a tribute to the genius of Barnes Wallis who fought persistent scepticism and disbelief from Whitehall that such a feat was possible.
Major disappointments accompany the initial trials, the casing of the bomb has to be drastically re-designed, and it transpires that the aircraft will need to approach the dam considerably lower and faster than had been predicted.
A special Squadron (617) is formed and selected to carry out the attack on the dams harnessing the energy of the rivers Moehne, Eder and Sorbe, led by Wing-Commander Guy Gibson (Richard Todd) who is given responsibility for the sortie and intensive training.
The climax of the film – the actual attack on the German dams – is rather a disappointment due to some unimpressive special effects.
Dr Barnes Wallis
Sir David Pye
Stanley Van Beers
Doctor WH Glanville
Official from Ministry of Aircraft
Captain Joseph Summers
RAF Officer at trials
Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Harris
Group Captain JNH Whitworth
Wing Commander Guy Gibson
Flight Lieutenant RD Trevor-Roper
Flight Lieutenant REG Hutchison
Flight Officer FM Spafford
Flight Lieutenant AT Taerum
Flight Sergeant Pulford